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Jeff Kolpack, Published April 18 2013

Summer coaches say pushing back spring sports season will have negative impacts

FARGO – A proposal to extend the North Dakota high school spring season is drawing concern from traditional summer sports like soccer and American Legion baseball.

Specifically, coaches say moving state tournaments a couple weeks into June will have ramifications including lost revenue. Fargo Legion coach Luke Rustad said three tournaments that the baseball club counts on for funding would be lost, including the annual Joe Parmer Invitational.

Rustad, also an assistant baseball coach at Fargo Shanley, said he isn’t campaigning against a formal request made to the North Dakota High School Activities Association. The request, led by West Fargo athletic director Curt Jones, is on next Tuesday’s agenda for the NDHSAA Board of Directors meeting in Valley City, N.D.

“I don’t want to seem like this pushy, ungrateful coach,” Rustad said. “I haven’t said much – I guess I’m trying to see how it plays out. I understand where they’re coming from, but I also hope they see the impact on other organizations that have their summers planned out. There’s a lot of funding and money.”

Fargo Soccer Club president Matt Noah said his organization is already entered in tournaments, such as one in Plymouth, Minn., on the June 15 weekend.

“We have high school girls teams that are ready to go with tournaments and practices right after the state tournament is done,” said Noah, who made his opinion already known to the NDHSAA Board of Directors with an email.

He said tournament entry fees usually in the range of $400 to $500 have been paid. Plus, there’s a residual cost to not showing up, he said. He said tournaments would have to re-bracket or make adjustments by finding other teams.

“The biggest thing is how it affects kids in other clubs and our reputation as a club,” Noah said. “You start pulling out of tournaments after you were accepted and it impacts you for years. You have that reputation, and they will not take you next year.”

Rustad said entry fees for his tournaments are in the $300 range. Counting concessions, each tournament can net upwards of $5,000. He said a 15-year-old tournament and the Jim McLaughlin Invitational for Legion “B” teams would also be affected.

“We definitely need to have those tournaments,” he said. “They’re money makers for our program.”

On the other hand, West Fargo Legion head coach Bill Ibach said his program won’t lose revenue because of lost tournaments. He also has mixed feelings on the extended high school season proposal.

“I see the value of doing it, because you have senior kids who will lose a big chunk of their season,” he said. “But on the other hand, I also have the same kids in Legion, and they’d lose a chunk of that. I don’t want to cut our schedule down, but I don’t have a lot of control over it.”

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia